Sequels Week--Go For the Companion

Okay, so there's been a lot of discussion this week about writing a sequel. I especially liked Angie's assurances that writing book 2 is hard. I appreciated Jeff's list of questions to ask to see if there's sequel potential to a story. Julia reminded us that we can't change horses mid-space ship. Or something like that. ;) And Beth gave some great advice in writing that pesky sequel as fast as possible.

I'm here to say: Go the companion route. It's so much easier. (Ha!)

But seriously, companion novels are almost new novels. You can explore the world you've already created (and it doesn't have to be a dystopian or fantasy world, could just be the way you've set up your high school or whatever) with new people! Shiny new people.

And those shiny new people can have a story of their own. I'm telling you, the companion novel is the way to go about writing your sophomore novel. Because if you think the sophomore slump only happens in college, think again.

I think companion novels that have sequential elements are the best of both worlds. Think THE DEAD-TOSSED WAVES as a companion to THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH. We get to see the MC from the first book in the second. The story is advanced a little bit more, amidst a new plot and new characters.

Things to think about:
1. Is there room in your world for growth? If so, you could so companion it up. I especially like going to different cities/places in the storyworld in a companion novel. Like, how cool would it be to read a book that takes place in The Capitol--the heart of the storyworld in THE HUNGER GAMES?

2. Can my MC realistically carry a second book? If no, then a companion is for you. You don't need that MC anymore. Sure, they can show up, even be a major player, but they don't have to be the shining star.

3. Have I told the whole story already? Angie sort of touched on this yesterday, but you have to really examine if you've told the whole story. If you have, then a companion novel could work for you.

So what do you think? Would you go the companion route? What are the advantages? The disadvantages?


Artemis Grey said...

Great post! I am SO in love with companion novels! I prefer writing them too, and have only two books that I've started with the intent to have a specific series. And in both cases, there was simply too much story and too vast a scheme to cover it in one book.

B.E. Sanderson said...

The one urban fantasy I've been shopping around is set up perfectly for sequels. The idea just lends itself to creating more stories for the MC and her buddies. But the suspense I wrote a couple years ago would be perfect for companion novels. I guess for me it depends on what the overall story can carry after the specific plot is wrapped up.

(Of course, since I haven't sold squat, this is all theory on my part. Time will tell.)

LM Preston said...

Companion novels are a great idea. But alas, I have 3 series out now that the sequel involves the current set of characters and one is even a continuation of the first story. I am starting a new wip where it's also a 3 book series of the continued story. Other great companion novel series are Camp Confidential.

Tere Kirkland said...

My WIP is sort of like a companion novel to the novel I'm trying to sell. The "world" and the magic of that world is the same, but the characters are different and I've managed to introduce new characters who reveal even more about the "world" (which is our own, but one where magic actually exists, in secret).

Although I think I cold write at least two more novels starring the mc from my agented novel, I like the security of writing a new character based in the same world, a stand-alone.

Great post.

Nicole Sheldrake said...

I hadn't even thought of companion novels until I read it on your blog! :) I'm in the midst of planning the next book in my YA fantasy series and I was thinking of doing a prequel instead of a sequel. Does anyone have any advice on writing prequels? My gut feeling is that one book is not enough to have a prequel but I would love to hear what you think.